Share |

Alumni notes

Spring 2017

ES denotes environmental studies undergraduate major; ESC, environmental studies undergraduate certificate; and SC, sustainability undergraduate certificate. Graduate programs: CBSD, Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development; CHE, Culture, History and Environment certificate; EAP, Energy Analysis and Policy certificate; EC, Environmental Conservation; EM, Environmental Monitoring (through 2005); ER, Environment and Resources (after 2007); LR, Land Resources (through 2007); and WRM, Water Resources Management.

Ashleigh Baker (EC ’16) is now a program associate at Foundations of Success in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit organization that provides technical support and facilitation around the design, management, monitoring and adaptation of conservation initiatives with practitioners around the world.

Jill Baum (Ph.D. LR ’01) has joined the YMCA of Greater Seattle as camp director for Camp Colman in the Southern Puget Sound.

Tom Bernthal (M.S. WRM ’92) received the Environmental Law Institute’s 2016 National Wetland Award in the category of state, tribal and local program development, recognizing his dedication to wetlands research, restoration and education. Bernthal has served as wetland monitoring and assessment coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources since 2003. He has also volunteered for more than two decades as an advisor and board member for several nonprofit organizations, including the Wisconsin Wetlands Association and the Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy. “His ability to coordinate efforts and advance innovative wetland monitoring and assessment methods have resulted in numerous valuable resources for the state and region,” the award statement reads.

Matt Dannenberg (ESC ’10) in November was profiled by Indian Country Today for his grassroots efforts to increase turnout and decrease barriers to voting among Wisconsin Natives. An enrolled member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Dannenberg is the founder and campaign director of Wisconsin Native Vote, a nonpartisan effort to educate Natives on political issues and motivate them to vote. “A lot of people are surprised when they see us because some live in very remote areas, and access is the No. 1 barrier to voting. But they are grateful, too,” Dannenberg told the publication.

What's new in your career
and life? Write us at
or connect with us on
FacebookTwitter or
LinkedIn and share
an update there.

Haidy Ear-Dupuy (M.S. CBSD ’98), social development specialist at the Asian Development Bank, visited the Nelson Institute in June to engage with Environmental Conservation students and share her career path, which has ranged across various government agencies and nongovernmental organizations in the United States and abroad.

Daniel Einstein (Ph.D. LR ’95) in September spoke with Wisconsin Public Radio about naturalist John Muir’s boyhood on a Wisconsin farm, his years as an inventor and entrepreneur at the University of Wisconsin, and his first forays into the American West. As historic and cultural resources manager at UW-Madison, Einstein has researched Muir’s time at UW. To hear the conversation:

Sue Gardner (M.S. CBSD ’91) directs the Park Stewardship Program at Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in San Francisco, California, engaging community members – especially youth – in conservation efforts, building and supporting creative partnerships, increasing public participation and advocacy for park lands, and providing meaningful experiences and opportunities for learning and service.

Melissa Gilmore (EC ’16) was hired as an environmental analysis and review specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and ConsumerProtection.

Oscar Gilberto Cárdenas Hernández (M.S. CBSD ’98, Ph.D. ER ’08) and Sarahy Contreras Matínez (M.S. CBSD ’98), both now at Centro Universitario de la Costa Sur in Autlán, Mexico, in November spoke via Skype with students in the graduate orientation seminar Environmental Studies 901, discussing their career paths and research interests.

Jamie Hogberg (M.S. CBSD ’14), professional programs coordinator for the Nelson Institute, served as chair of the 2016 North American Congress forConservation Biology. Hosted in Madison in July, the conference focused on communicating science for conservation action.

Malorie Imhoff (EC ’16) has joined DePauw University as farm manager and sustainability coordinator.

Grace Latz
Grace Latz. Photo credit Erik Dresser.

Alex Karambelas (Ph.D. ER, EAP ’16) has begun a postdoctoral fellowship at the Columbia University Earth Institute, continuing her research on connections between energy, emissions, air quality and human health outcomes. 

Jennifer Koch (ESC ’08) was recently promoted to associate with the landscape architecture and planning practice Rhodeside & Harwell. An urban planner and project manager with expertise in community development and resilience, public engagement, active transportation and environmental protection, Koch serves as secretary-treasurer of the American Planning Association’s Sustainable Communities Division.

Grace Latz (ESC ’11) competed as a member of the U.S. Women’s rowing team at the 2016 Summer Olympics, advancing to the finals in the Quadruple Sculls event, where the United States finished fifth. Latz is an advocate for water quality and sustainability, and during the Olympics she spoke to media about her hope that the global spotlight would help to improve water conditions in Brazil.

Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller

Nic Mink (CHE ’10) was profiled by the Illinois Times in August for his efforts to bring fresh wild salmon to the Midwest through Sitka Salmon Shares, a community-supported fishery in which subscribers receive shipments of seasonal fish delivered to their doorstep. Over the last four years, membership in the organization has grown from 70 to 2,500.

Mark Mueller (M.S. WRM ’67) was among those spotlighted as part of Project72, a statewide campaign to highlight UW-Madison’s connections with the people and communities of Wisconsin ( The effort features a local person in each of the state’s 72 counties whose UW ties have benefited society. In 2000, Mueller founded the Spooner-based Botanic Innovations, which today has 15 employees, manufactures skin-care products and dietary supplements, and sells plant-seed products to manufacturers.

Trish O’Kane (Ph.D. ER ’15), now a lecturer and advisor at the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, has carried forward to UVM the Birding to Change the World service learning course that she first implemented as an environmental studies capstone class at UW-Madison. Her efforts in Vermont earned coverage by NBC News in October.

Trish O'Kane
Two beavers, spotted slapping their tails,
capture the attention of fifth-grader Yadiel
(left) and Trish O'Kane (right). Photo credit
Joshua Brown/University of Vermont.

Whitney Passint (ES ’10) is now an associate natural resource educator in Brown County with the UW Environmental Resources Center, co-located within UW-Madison and UW-Extension. She will develop and implement an outreach plan for the Lower Fox River Demonstration Farm Network, a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative project designed to showcase and demonstrate leading-edge conservation practices to improve Great Lakes water quality.

George Reistad (ES ’11) in August became food policy coordinator for the city of Madison, overseeing citywide food policy and assisting with initiatives such as a public market, community gardens and the Pollinator Protection Plan. “It’s a basic human right to have access to healthy, affordable and culturally relevant and appropriate food. So to be in a position at the institutional level to actually make sure some of that happens on the ground is a blessing,” Reistad told The Capital Times in October in a Q&A about his role. To read the interview:

Joy Rifkin (ES ’11), zero waste coordinator for the New York City Department of Education Office of Sustainability, was recently profiled by Teach for America’s One Day magazine about her efforts to bring New York City schools to zero waste, meaning that anything that can be diverted to recycling or compost will be. At the first 100 schools in a no-waste pilot program, students have formed clubs such as the Waste Watchers, Cafeteria Rangers and Sanitation Specialists. “The kids are the easiest part of this puzzle,” Rifkin told One Day. “If you give them the why and the how, they’re so quick to jump on board.”

Patrick Robinson (Ph.D. ER ’11) in October was named interim director of the Community, Natural Resource and Economic Development program of UW-Extension. An educator and administrator with more than 14 years of experience with the university, Robinson is currently the co-director and an environmental studies specialist for the Environmental Resources Center.

Zach Seaborne (ES ’15) has joined the Fungi Academy, a community living and learning space in San Marcos, Guatemala, focused on sharing the skills and knowledge of sustainable mushroom cultivation for food, medicine and bioremediation. The group hosts weekly public workshops in applied mycology and has converted a secondhand school bus into a mobile laboratory and teaching vessel that will journey through the Americas.

Suzanne Tegen (ESC ’94) received a 2016 Clean Energy Education & Empowerment(C3E) Award, recognizing outstanding leadership and achievements in advancing clean energy. The C3E initiative is aimed at closing the gender gap and increasing women’s participation and leadership in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and across the clean energy sector. Tegen serves as manager of wind and water power deployment with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), managing a team dedicated to the responsible deployment of clean energy around the world. She recently completed a multiyear research project to assess and quantify key siting considerations for wind energy. She also wrote the National Wind SkillsAssessment, a first-of-its-kind study showing that women constitute approximately 20 percent of the U.S. wind workforce. Tegen is passionate about mentoring and energy education; is active in the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition, inspiring students to work in the clean energy arena; and is a founding board member of Women of Wind Energy.

Ryan Thompson (EC ’16) is now a synthesis and outreach specialist for the USAID Measuring Impact initiative of Environmental Incentives, LLC. A for-profit, small-business consulting firm, Measuring Impact designs performance-driven approaches to conservation, aligning public and private sector objectives to create resilient water, land and wildlife resources.

Julia Wochos (ES ’14) has begun a second AmeriCorps term, serving with Big Sky Watershed Corps, a program placing young professionals in Montana watershed communities to make a measurable difference in local conservation efforts. In her first term with AmeriCorps, Wochos was a citizen science specialist with Project Conserve in coordination with the North CarolinaArboretum Society.



“If you feel passionate about your work and do good for the world, you may be surprised by the opportunities life hands you,” says Patty Monahan (M.S. LR, EAP ’91).

Patty Monahan
Patty Monahan

Monahan understands the importance of coupling exploration with direction to find your career path. After earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of California, Berkeley, she began work for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Focused on reducing air pollution inCalifornia, she discovered a desire to expand her education through a graduate degree in an energy discipline.

“Climate change was and remains the single biggest problem facing our world, and energy is a major piece of the puzzle,” Monahan says.

While investigating her options, she came across UW-Madison and the EAP program. She visited campus and found the interdisciplinary program that she sought.

Upon graduation, Monahan returned to California, studying energy use and efficiency at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, followed by a second stint at the EPA. She then joined the Union of Concerned Scientists as an analyst, eventually becoming director of the California office and deputy director of the Clean Vehicles program, researching the intersection of transportation and climate policy.

“Working in the nonprofit sector allowed me to be more creative and critically approach governmental policies in an effort to improve them,” she says. 

Today, Monahan directs the Transportation Program at Energy Foundation, a San Francisco-based philanthropic organization advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy.



Susan Boley-May
Susan Boley-May

Susan Boley-May (M.S. LR ’02) passed away from cancer in November in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Boley-May worked as an adjunct professor of biology at the University of Northern Iowa, and later at Wartburg College and Hawkeye Community College, until she retired in 2014.

As a master’s student at the Nelson Institute, Boley-May was advised by geography professor Tom Vale, and professors Jim Knox and Nancy Langston also served on her advisory committee. Her thesis explored vegetation change in the floodplain forests of the lower Wisconsin River.

Sue, who always wore a smile, loved the natural world in all forms, from soil and rocks to birds and butterflies. She was also a creative and intrepid gardener who experimented with native species and water conservation.

blog comments powered by Disqus


Facebook logo   Twitter logo   Make a donation